By Kathy Chouteau
The Standard’s recently launched series, “A Few of My Favorite Things,” takes a quick look at some of this reporter’s top local treasures—be they food, drink, places or faces—from Richmond and beyond. Up this week: Taqueria La Bamba’s carnitas burrito.
I first wandered into “La Bamba” on the advice of my neighbor after moving to a new Richmond neighborhood. That was 14 years ago, and I’ve been grateful to him for the solid tip ever since! On an early visit I discovered the Salvadoran/Mexican fusion eatery’s carnitas burrito, and it’s become my go-to order there.
From the first bite, La Bamba’s carnitas burrito transports you to a flavor paradise—it’s seriously THAT GOOD. One reason for this dreamy deliciousness is the star of the show: the carnitas meat. According to Jeannette Argumedo—who owns the eatery with her husband, Carlos Deras—the meat is marinated via a secret family recipe she isn’t ready to reveal, but does disclose that it includes freshly squeezed lemon.
La Bamba’s kitchen crew also takes special care to really sear the meat in the carnitas burrito. “I like it crispy,” said Argumedo, who emphasized that they also use fresh ingredients. “Everything tastes better when you make it fresh every day.” Those ordering a regular carnitas burrito will receive it made with carnitas (pork) meat, rice, beans, salsa fresca, onions and cilantro for $9.50, while a super burrito includes everything the regular option has but with sour cream, cheese and guacamole added for $11 (I usually go next-level with “super”).
The burritos come in a variety of meat selections and also can be made to order and served as a plate upon request—with rice, beans and a salad on the side—as an option that’s not on the menu. While you’re at it, order the house specialty pupusas too; along with the carnitas burrito, they’re some of La Bamba’s most popular menu items. (Tip: La Bamba recently launched rice pupusas on Mondays at the request of customers).
And the other special ingredient La Bamba serves up with its carnitas burritos? Love, according to Argumedo, who said, “When you’re cooking, you’ve got to cook with love.” The eatery’s co-owner took over the restaurant from her aunt, Carmen Torres, and has worked there for 31 years. While the rest of La Bamba’s staff may not be relatives, they clearly operate like a family, working in concert and pouring their heart and soul into their food.
La Bamba is located at 12345 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond and is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Delivery is not available. In recent years, the eatery has updated its décor and includes two cheerful dining areas and an adjacent parking lot. Click here for more info or call (510) 235-2288.